After spending eight years in New York City as a dancer and performer—during which time I studied Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, and Ashtanga Yoga—I decided to venture to Bali, Indonesia, to explore southeast Asia and teach. I connected with the culture immediately, and soon called the beautiful country my home.
I started teaching yoga teacher trainings on the island and built my company, YogaKoh, which is an internationally recognized yoga school that offers yoga teacher trainings, continuing education courses, retreats, and workshops.
What I did sounds like an out-of-reach dream to so many yoga teachers I talk to back in the U.S. But it’s more realistic than you might think. Here are my top tips for taking the leap to travel the world teaching yoga.
Secret No. 1: Really think about—and then get to know more about— where you most want to go.
Half the battle of navigating teaching yoga abroad is getting to know the community that you want to be involved in. To thrive in a foreign environment, it usually means you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with not only the location but also the people who live there, from the locals to the type of students or travelers who will be coming to your classes. One way to do this is by observing the way of life in a place, and starting conversations with the local community who can share insights about the culture, trends, and things people in the area respond to. It’s also important to find out what’s missing in the area—or what needs to be expanded upon—so you’ll know how your skill sets might jive or fill a hole.
Secret No. 2: Reach out to business owners in the area.
These are the people who can help facilitate your experience and become reference points as you make plans. These are also people with whom you can create a loving vibe, which will serve you whether you end up teaching in that location or not. If you have the opportunity to spend face time a location you’re considering teaching, jump at the chance! Visit the restaurants and shops that help create the buzz of the location. Find the yoga studios in the area and take a class to see what they have going on.
Secret No. 3: If you can’t visit, research!
If you are doing your planning from a distance—plotting a 3-month stay in Bali, say, but can’t make it all the way to southeast Asia to do in-person recon—make a list of local vendors and shops that interest you, then follow them on social media and leave comments and questions. Join their Facebook page and learn what you can so that when you arrive, you can show up and contribute in a way that’s authentic and organic to the way of life in that place. I find that kind of positive contribution is usually met with very welcoming energy.
Secret No. 4: Stay positive—and realistic.
I have found that if you carve out the space for what you most want to happen in your life—and put the energy toward making it happen—the universe will back you up. That said, don’t expect everything to fall into place overnight. If you put yourself in the frame of mind that things will just fall in to place with not much effort, there’s a good chance you’ll come up short-handed or find yourself feeling frustrated. Do your work, go out on a limb, and expand what you think you are capable of manifesting.
About the Author
Jolie Manza is an international yoga teacher and movement artist and the founder of YogaKoh, a company that specializes in yoga teacher trainings, retreats, and movement workshops worldwide. Learn more at yogakoh.com.